Wednesday, May 6, 2015

TCM Star of the Month May 2015: Sterling Hayden

Sterling Hayden (r.) and Jean Hagen in The Asphalt Jungle (1950; 9:45 PM)

We're getting close to finishing the first week of a new month, and so we finally get to the new Star of the Month: Sterling Hayden. (In an interesting coincidence, it's the third straight month in which the Star of the Month is showing up on Wednesday nights.) Hayden is an interesting choice, as he wasn't quite your typical star, at least, not in the way the studio system produced stars in the era just before Hayden got to Hollywood. He certainly didn't become as big as some of the other people who came around in the early 1950s, like Ernest Borgnine or Jack Lemmon. Still, Hayden's films are worth a watch and I'm glad that TCM has selected him.

Probably Hayden's most famous movie is The Asphalt Jungle, and that one is airing at 9:45 PM this evening. In fact, most of the movies this evening have a substantial crime element to them:

The night starts at 8:00 PM with The Killing, in which Hayden masterminds a daring robbery of a racetrack's takings, only for the robbery to go wrong because of the foibles of some of the conspirators. In this case, that means Elisha Cook Jr. and Marie Windsor who play an unhappily married couple; both of them are quite good.

Third up is Crime Wave at 11:45, with Hayden as a more or less good guy, a cop trying to investigate a gang of criminals. The only thing is, he has to deal with an ex-convict (Gene Nelson) who would really prefer to stay straight.

Suddenly comes on at 1:15 AM. This one also has Hayden as the good guy, a sheriff who gets held hostage by a man (Frank Sinatra) who wants to take out the President in a sniper attack. It's suspenseful, but whenever TCM have shown this one, they've had a lousy print since I think this is one of those movies that wound up in the public domain.

Concluding the night, at 4:15 AM, is Five Steps to Danger, which has Hayden getting mixed up with Ruth Roman, East bloc spies, and a scientist at a US army base. It's entertaining enough, but one of those decidedly low-budget movies.

The only one of the night's films I haven't seen before (at least, I think I haven't seen it) is Crime of Passion at 2:45 AM. Hayden stars along with Barbara Stanwyck and Raymond Burr. Sounds interesting.

No comments: